Monday, 30 January 2017

Birth Year Reading Challenge 2017 - Part One

Have you heard about The Birth Year Reading Challenge? The idea is to read and comment on books published in the year you were born. It's hosted by the Hotchpot Café if you would like more information, rules, etc., please click on the link at the end of this post.


It’s an interesting challenge but in an effort to stay true to my blog, I’m going to focus on children’s books. Then to make it a tad more difficult, I’m going to concentrate on children's books by a single author. When I started thinking about this, I realised I would need to find a prolific writer to make the challenge worthwhile. So who had a large number of books published in … gulp … 1948? As far as I’m concerned there is just one contender and that’s Enid Blyton.  

A quartet of Enid Blyton's? Well how else did she write so many stories?

I realised Enid Blyton had written a lot of books but had no idea just how many. So far, I’ve identified forty published in 1948 but there could be more. I have three of them already, which leaves thirty seven to find.  Remember the books are close to seventy years old so it could take some time, but it will be an interesting project. I could simplify things by buying later reprints, but I much prefer the original editions so those are the ones I'm going to look for.


The purpose of this post and the one to follow next week is to list all forty books and add images where possible. The majority of the images are from an illustrated bibliography by Tony Summerfield. Others are from The Enid Blyton Society Website, and three are from books in my collection.


Enid Blyton Nature Series Jinky and the birds
There are four books in this the Nature Series each in a uniform edition with tan, brown, green and black on cream covers.

Book 1 Jinky and the birds
Book 2 Jinky and the animals
Book 3 Jinky and the flowers
Book 4 Jinky and the insects  

These were all in 1948 by E. J. Arnold & Son. Phyllis Denton provided the illustrations. Each book contains four short stories. In Book one the stories are Jinky and the birds, Jinky makes a nest, all kinds of eggs and Jinky helps with the bird-babies.


Enid Blyton How do you do Mary Mouse

The original How do you do Mary Mouse published in August 1948 sported a yellow and red cover as pictured above, later reprints were more colourful so I might see if I can find both versions.  

Enid Blyton How do you do Mary Mouse

Secret of the Old Mill (Janet and Peter Book no. 2) published in September 1948 with illustrations by Eileen Soper. This was published by Brockhampton Press as were the above books and the three that follow. 

Enid Blyton Secret of the old mill


Enid Blyton The red-spotted handkerchief
The Red-Spotted Handkerchief and other stories, published in April 1948. The book contains ten stories, which previously appeared in Sunny Stories a children’s magazine published by George Newnes. Sunny Stories began life as Sunny Stories for Little Folk in 1926 and was both written and edited by Enid Blyton. I thought about excluding this as the stories were written in earlier years, but as the challenge is to find books published in my birth year it had to be included. Besides I would really like to read it, and it would look nice on my shelf!


The cover on this next book really appeals to me, and I very much hope I can find it. Tales of the Twins (The Nursery Series No. 1) illustrated with 12 colour plates by Eileen A Soper. Published October, 1948. 

Enid Blyton Tales of the twins

They Ran Away Together (Nursery Series No. 2) Once again published in October 1948 but this time the illustrations are by Jeanne Farrar. I realise this cover could be offensive to some people but please remember it was published in 1948, and no offence is intended.

Enid Blyton They ran away together

Three books from the Old Thatch Series, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 each of these are new editions published in June 1948 by J. Coker. The cover illustrations are by Mary Smith.  

Enid Blyton  Old Thatch Series,

A fourth book published by J. Coker in 1948 Tales of Old Thatch, with a pretty cover illustration by Mary Smith. 

Enid Blyton Tales of Old Thatch

I would love to add a dust jacketed copy of Six Cousins of Mistletoe Farm to my collection and would be willing to pay a little more for this one.  It was published by Evans Brothers in November 1948, and the jacket illustration is by Peter Beigel.



Now For a Story published by Harold Hill contains seventeen stories from Sunny Stories Magazine. Cover illustration by Frank Varty. 


Five Go Off to Camp published in October 1948 by Hodder & Stoughton. Eileen Soper provided the dust jacket illustrations and the eight two-colour illustrations inside.  This is one of the three books already in my collection. 


Nature Tales and Jolly Tales from the Old Thatch Series both published in April 1948 by W. & A. K. Johnston. 


My Enid Blyton Book No. 1 published by Latimer House with 14 stories originally published in The Red Pixie Book. Dust jacket illustration by  Grace Lodge.


Mister Icy Cold published by the Shakespeare Head Press (Basil Blackwell).  I didn’t find a single copy of this during my years as a book dealer I don't know if that is because it's scarce, or if I was just unlucky.



So there you have it. Quite a challenge I think you will agree. It’s possible I could buy many of these online but as funds are limited, I’m going to try to source them locally where prices might be lower. Besides it’s more of a challenge that way, and I do love a bargain.  If I have any luck in locating any/all of them, I will let you know in a future post or posts.

If you would like more details about The Birth Year Reading Challenge, please pay a visit to the Hotchpot Café.



In next weeks post I will share another twenty books written by Enid Blyton and published in 1948. 

66 comments:

  1. What a lovely, lovely idea! Now I'm curious to find out what children's books of notable status were written the year I was born: 1958! Oh what a genius idea to see what the values and hopes and visions were at that time....thank you dear friend!

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    1. Hello Anita, I followed the advice of the Hotcpot café, which was -

      Wikipedia and GoodReads.com have lists of books by year published. Literary prize lists are a great source, and Googling “best books of ______” will also give you interesting results.

      I’m sure you will find interesting things published in your birth year, enjoy your search, Barbara xx

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  2. Goodness! What am l gonna say about all this! :).
    "Willie..you don't read books"..."Yes! Yes! Don't
    Nag"...HeHe!

    One thing it has made me do..is to find out what books
    were published in my year..47..That's 1947..Let's not be
    silly here! :).

    Well..the biggest selling book was 'The Diary of Anne Frank"
    No! Never read it..But seen the film and TV series!
    Then there was "A Street Car Named Desire". Seen the film,
    released in 51 loads of times..with the great Marlon Brando!
    Then there was a big selling Italian book..The 'Path of the
    Nest of Spiders'. by Italo Calvino..translated into English
    in 57..!
    Oh! And 'Billy Bunter of Greyfriars' was published in 47 as
    well..l was'nt even bothered with the TV series! I find the
    whole thing quite offensive..!

    I do remember seeing on BBC4 back in 2009, a film on Enid Blyton,
    with Helena Bonham Carter in the title role...! Film was called
    Enid.
    So..There it is 1947....!!! When a baby weighing 10lb 10oz was
    dragged into the world...!!! :0).
    (end of Pt1).

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  3. Willie you were born in a great year! Just look at all those fabulous books and films, I’m impressed! You don’t need to read books to know about them which you obviously do. I’ve seen the film and TV series of the Diary of Anne Frank too but not read the book. Same with Billy Bunter I’ve never read the books, although I did sell an awful lot of them during my book dealing years so someone is reading them.

    I’ve also seen A street car .. but it was a long time ago, and it’s time I watched it again.

    You were a good size baby! My son was 7lb 6oz when he was born and even that was a struggle. 1947 was obviously a year for good, strong healthy babies.

    I can hardly wait for Pt2. :-)

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    1. Oh! And Hilary Clinton was born in 47..!
      Won't bragged about that...! :(
      And David Bowie of course..! Less said..!
      And Stephen King was born a couple days
      before my birthday!
      HeHe! Back then of course..we were'nt brought
      up..we were dragged up...Onwards and Upwards..
      Once more unto the breech dear friends..once more! :).
      Goodness...Henry V....! :0).

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    2. That’s done it now I’m going to have to go and see who was born in 48. The only two I know about are Prince Charles and Ozzy Osborn! I’m beginning to wish I was born a year earlier – you’ve got all the interesting people! :-)

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  4. Forty in one year alone? Whoa...
    I was born in the 60's and I bet if I limited it to just science fiction titles, it would be a scary amount.

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    1. Yes indeed, I don’t know how she did it!
      I can’t begin to imagine, but I’m willing to bet it would be a vast amount.

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  5. Barbara! You come up with fascinating ideas for your blog. I LOVE Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm!I hope you do find the dust jacketed version you want soon! I am inspired to re-read my worn out paperback copy this week. I knew Enid Blyton was prolific,but I now discover I had no idea... I look forward to Part Two.

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    1. I agree Colleen it is a fascinating idea, but I can’t claim any credit for it. I’m not sure who runs The Hotchpot Café, but they do seem to come up with some very good blog topics.
      I feel ashamed to admit I’ve never read Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm. If I can’t find a copy with a dust jacket, I will buy a paperback because I really do want to read it. I just love a nice hardback book with a dust jacket. It’s the book dealer in me or more likely the collector. :-)

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    2. I love Enid Blyton but have never heard of the Six Cousins one, living on a farm you would have thought we would have had that one. If you find it I would love to read it xx

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    3. I will pass it on to you with pleasure Sue - just got to find it first. :-) xx

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  6. My oh my, what a prolific author! And a most interesting hop. Now I'm going to have to go see what was published in the year I was born.

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    1. Hi Bish, it is a fun hop and one I might take part in again. Next time I would probably look for a variety of different authors.

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  7. Why did you never get into journalism, you write such good, interesting stuff. Me? I'm not mentioning my birth year! Well, it gets embarrassing when the candles out-weigh the cake! Another motivating post Barbara, well done! I shall have to check now for who was tops in Sci-fi writing way back........when I was born

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    1. I don’t think my old English teacher would agree with you there John. I loathed English at school, and yet I always loved reading and words. The problem was I couldn’t and still can’t spell! I would love to start my school life all over again but with the twin benefits of calculators and computers.

      I wonder if you have read any of the Sci-fi books published in your birth year or perhaps anything by one of the authors writing then. It would be interesting to find out.

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    2. I am glad you can't spell,I'm the same ( I am duff at card tricks too ) so I leave all that stuff to the likes of Mr. H. Potter etc! Like I said, because of your inspiration I am now motivated to research that very subject.........who was tops in 194.........'ere! You nearly got me there!

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    3. Go on you know you want to tell us all how old. :-)

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  8. I've got Brer Rabbit. Dad used to get all tongue-tied reading it, so I learnt to read quite quickly as a child as he'd had enough having already read the book to my brother a hundred times or more!

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    1. I think that’s a lovely memory Nikki, and I’m sure you didn’t regret learning to read at an early age.

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  9. She was a prolific writer, and I adored seeing her books here today. Kids on the covers looked like they were outside an having fun! Now there's a concept. Great challenge!

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    1. Hello Lee, I'm really pleased you enjoyed the covers, and you are right most kids were outside playing back then. I hate thinking about how much youngsters miss out on these days.

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  10. 40 in one year!?! Good grief.
    Hats of to Enid.

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    1. I don’t think anyone would have noticed the missing letter Sandra. I certainly didn’t and no matter what the spelling the sentiment is quite right she was a remarkable woman. :)

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  12. So just had a quick shuffty and there were loads all scribbling around my start date. My favourites are :- Arthur C Clarke (1917-2008) for "A Fall of Moon Dust". Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) for the "Foundation" series. Eric Frank Russell ( 1905-1978 ) for "Wasp" in particular and many other stories. Just recently obtained copies of "Venus Equilateral" vols 1 and 2 by George O Smith that were first published back in 1947 so about my time too.

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    1. I’m ashamed to say I’ve not read any of those. Perhaps we should do a book swap one of these days, although I’m not sure what you would make of some of the things I read. Thanks for joining in. Night, Barbara

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  13. Barbara, I love all the book covers in this post, and I think this is a great idea! I don't do any memes, however, I will enjoy reading the reviews of those who participate in this challenge. :)

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    1. Hello Linda, I don’t often do memes but this one appealed to me. It got me thinking and set a new challenge both of which I like. :)

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  14. Wow, looks like I've got a lot of catching up to do (reading AND writing). I can't believe she had so many books published in one year. I don't know if today's publishers would do that; her books were all competing with each other! The cover that caught my interest first was the Secret of the Old Mill--looks like a sweet story. I love this idea of promoting long ago books by matching them up to birth years. Fun post, Barbara!

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    1. Hello Marcia, I can’t even begin to image what it would be like to have forty books published in one year. Forget sleeping, eating or writing it would be a non stop round of author events! I suppose she was incredibly popular at the time so the publishers just kept publishing and making money while they could. She certainly had stamina or there was more than one of her!
      You can join the challenge any time before March 1, 2017 if you want to although I know you are taking some time off from blogging at the moment so it might not be convenient for you. Having said that there is no reason why you can’t do a post later in the year without joining the challenge. :)

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  15. What a fun idea! I love your take on it!

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  16. Like many others, I can't get my head around publishing (at least) 40 books in one year. Extraordinary. Just looking through the titles, there are so many I had never heard of, and I thought I knew my Enid Blyton!

    I can thoroughly recommend reading books that are out of print - it gives you a different perspective than the latest best-sellers. I'm currently reading a book from 1991 (not my birth year, I hasten to add!) and finding it quite refreshing.

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    1. It’s quite remarkable I have no idea how she did it. Like you, I thought I knew Enid Blyton, but I don’t recognise several of these titles.

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  17. Well could not find many children's books for 1942. A couple from Enid Blyton- Five on a Treasure Island (read it) and Mary Mouse and the Dolls House. One from Diana Ross (do not think it would be the singer!!) - The Little Red Engine Gets a Name and one from Hildegarde Swift - The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Grey Bridge. One for us older ladies; Daphne du Maurier - Frenchmans Creek and everyone's favourite, Agatha Christie - The Body in the Library, Five Little Pigs and The Moving Finger.You certainly got us all interested in this one, but I am going to have a look at what I would have been reading a few years later when I started school at the age of four! x

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    1. That’s a brilliant list Sue! I’ve seen the book by Diana Ross (sold it a couple of times) and wondered the same thing as you. I’ve just looked her up online and found this; Diana Ross A well-loved and influential children's writer in the nineteen forties, fifties and sixties. Many of her stories were originally written for the BBC and were also broadcast in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. She was born of British parents in Valletta Malta on 8 July 1910 and was christened on board her father's ship HMS Diana by the ship's chaplain. Educated at Kensington High School, London; Girton College Cambridge, B.A. (honours) in history 1932; Central School of Art London 1933-35. Married the photographer and interior designer Anthony Denney in 1940 (divorced 1950) twin daughters and one son. Died 4 May 2000 peacefully at home in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. So now we know.

      I’ve got Frenchman’s Creek if you fancy reading it. I like Daphne du Maurier although my favourite of hers is Rebecca.

      I like your idea of looking for the books you would have been reading age four. I wonder if you will remember any of them. xx


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    2. Have read Frenchman's Creek, but of course Rebecca is my favourite. I gather my name came from that book - Susan Rebecca

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    3. Well I never, I didn’t know that Sue. I always assumed it was because of your relationship with Dame Rebecca West. That serves me right for assuming anything. :-)

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  18. What a great idea!! I know I have read a few of Enid Blyton's books, but not sure I remember which ones. Hopefully some of the covers you share next week will spark my memory.

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    1. I hope so Teressa, images do have the power to stir memories.

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  19. This sounds like it will be fascinating! I can't believe Enid Blyton wrote 40 books in 1948. My do I feel like a slow writer. I am in awe! I think it is wonderful that you have a few of the books already. It will be lots of fun for you to find the rest! I hope you are able to locate them and can't wait to hear about the process. :)

    Happy Book Hunting!

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    1. Hello Stephanie, she didn’t write all the stories in 1948, some had appeared previously in magazines, which were then gathered together and published in anthologies or collections of short stories in that year. Many of the stories were newly published in 1948 but not all.

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  20. There has been several Brer Rabbit authors, correct?

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    1. Yes indeed, the stories of Br'er Rabbit go way back in time. Robert Roosevelt (an uncle of Theodore Roosevelt) wrote many of then down and in the late 19th century Joel Chandler Harris published & popularised the stories. Similar versions of the same stories were also collected & recorded by folklorist Alcee Fortier in Southern Louisiana. Enid Blyton retold the stories for children and in 1946 Walt Disney made the film Song of the South which is based on two Brer Rabbit stories.

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  21. Dear Barbara what a wonderful post. The challenge is very tempting. I wish I could browse the internet more but I don't seem to find much time lately. I will try to look for books on my birthday date when I get time so that is one task to do for me. Some of these stories seem to ring a bell . I am sure I must have come across them when I was a kid. I used to read a lot of Enid blyton books. The other ones that I used to read when I was in my teens was by Georgette Heyer and Agatha Christie. I used to love the old English words(or slang) that was in heyer books. I used to enjoy the old style language.
    Love the beautiful books you have shown and I know I have read some of them. Oh how I wish my mum had not given away my books.




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    1. Hi Shashi, yes getting the posts ready (finding the books and then the images) was time-consuming, but i enjoyed it. The hard part will be trying to find the books, but it will give me something to focus on this year and probably a few years after that! Most of Enid Blyton’s books have been republished many times so I’m sure you will have seen and read some of these especially as you liked her. I’ve not read very much by Georgette Heyer and only one or two of Agatha Christie’s books. I’ve got some in my must-read stacks but getting to them is the problem. I keep finding out about so many great books on friend's blogs, which is a mixed blessing in a way because I then add those to the pile, and so it goes on. I’m not complaining because books and reading are some of my favourite things, I just need to live to be about 140 to read them all. :-)

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  22. Thank you for signing up with this interesting post, and welcome! It looks like a very fun way to do the challenge, Barbara, and it's most important to enjoy it! Ms. Blyton must have had a fertile imagination indeed. I'm looking forward to hearing more about Mistletoe Farm. It looks like my kind of place.

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    1. Hi J.G., thank you for thinking up such an interesting challenge, I am very happy to join in. I’m going to spend a little time searching for a first edition Mistletoe Farm, but if I can’t find one I will look for a later paperback which should be much easier to find. I am so looking forward to reading it and sharing a little about it.

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  23. Dear Barbara - what a great challenge. Your books by Enid Blyton look super. Hope you find many more by her. Have a lovely day. Hugs!

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  24. I love this challenge and what a wonderful look back! Such a different world, but so fascinating.

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    1. Thanks Crystal, I must admit I'm enjoying the challenge.

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  25. Wonderful challenge. I loved Enid Blyton's books.

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    1. Thanks Nasreen, Enid Blyton books are certainly very popular.

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  26. Sounds like a great challenge but alas not one I can commit to at the moment. Still, its provided hours of fun googling the books that were published the year I was born.

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    1. I’m sure the birth year reading challenge will be back another year Tracy so maybe you could join in then, if you wanted to. I’ve enjoyed finding out about not only books published in 1948, but what else was going on in that year it’s surprising the things you learn.

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  27. How could she do SO many in a year?? One of my very fondest memories is when we brought our kids (then 9 and 7) in 1992 to England, Wales, and Ireland for a month. On car trips we listened to tapes (I still miss tapes) of The Folk of the Faraway Tree. They can both still say 'Saucepan' just like the narrator. I must buy that book for them to read to their children. And by the way, I am a 1948er too!

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    1. Hello fellow 1948er! Enid Blyton wrote some excellent stories with The Faraway Tree series and The Famous Five being some of her best. She didn’t write all the stories in one year many were earlier magazine submissions only published in book form in 1948. The publishers were obviously ‘striking while the iron was hot’, gathering together all the material they could find and publishing while there was money to be made. I’m sure your grandchildren would enjoy The Faraway Tree stories and once heard they are never forgotten!

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    2. I went over to amazon uk to search for the Faraway Tree books. I read some comments, and some people were unhappy with more modern editions - both the illustrations and the fact that names were changed. Could you let me know what editions are the 'real' ones? I would like to get the originals unless they are a million dollars now! Thanks so much. If you want to email you may find my address under the 'about me' tab on my blog under the header pic, and then click on 'view my complete profile' - hope this isn't too much hassle for you.

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    3. Hello Nan, it’s no trouble at all. I will get some information together and send you an email. It might take a day or two, but I will enjoy doing it.

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  28. What a great idea. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp was published in 1949, my birth year. It was the inspiration for The Sound of Music years later. It is still a favorite of mine.

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    1. Hello Darlene, The Sound of Music is one of my favourites too.

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  29. I used to love Enid Blyton as a child and the front colour illustrations are always love to see. I have just looked at which books were published when I was born and was amazed to see that some of them my son enjoyed reading as a child! Sarah x

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    1. Hello Sarah,
      I love that continuity, and I’m looking forward to my little granddaughters enjoying some of the books I loved as a child. Have a happy weekend. x

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  30. Hi Barbara, it's interesting how Diversity was already spread through children's books in the 1940s (They Ran Away Together, Children of Other Lands etc.). Again, I'm going by the child-me instincts: I would've been intrigued by the Mistletoe Farm and Mister Icy Cold. Best, best, best of luck locating them!

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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